Government ethics

Wichita ethics code to be considered

Wichita ethics code to be considered

The Wichita city council will consider an ethics code that overlooks a simple and effective solution to a problem. This week the Wichita City Council will consider the final version of a proposed ethics code. It does not cover campaign finance. It does cover gifts to council members, which has been an issue in the past. Part of the problem with the proposal is the creation of a new board, the Ethics Advisory Board. Its members will be asked to judge things like whether a gift is "... intended or has the appearance or effect ..." The board will be…
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Wichita water plant contract

Wichita water plant contract

Wichita should consider discarding the water plant contract in order to salvage its reputation and respect for process. This week the Wichita City Council will consider approving a contract with Wichita Water Partners to build a new water treatment plant. It's a controversial matter that likely played a significant role in the recent mayoral election. Wichita Eagle reporting by Chance Swaim in the story Wichita’s mayor steered multi-million-dollar water plant contract to friends traces through the issues. The most important thing is that the city receives a reliable water plant that meets its needs. Currently, the city operates a plant…
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Longwell: ‘There is no corruption’

Longwell: ‘There is no corruption’

Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell says there is no corruption involving him, but this is only because of loose and sloppy Kansas and Wichita laws. In an advertisement in the November 3, 2019 Wichita Eagle, Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell defended himself against charges of corruption. Referring to a recent investigation by the Sedgwick County District Attorney, the ad states: In 2018 and 2017, Bennett found I was 100% compliant. In 2016 he found only one instance where I was $21.33 over the annual $500 threshold allowed for "goods and services" received from local companies. Here's what the District Attorney found in…
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City code on ethical conduct in Wichita

Wichita has a city code governing ethical conduct by council members, but it seems to have no teeth. Here's an excerpt from the Wichita city code as passed in 2008 (full section below): "[Council members] shall refrain from making decisions involving business associates, customers, clients, friends and competitors." When asked about a specific application of this city law relating to former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, the Wichita city attorney supplied this interpretation: Related to the Mayor's participation in the item, yes, City Code advises Council members to "refrain from making decisions involving business associates, customers, clients, friends and competitors. ...…
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The power and influence of the Wichita mayor

The power and influence of the Wichita mayor

When pursuing a large Wichita city contract, did the winning company lobby all council members, or primarily Mayor Jeff Longwell? The role of Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell in the awarding of the contract for the new Wichita water plant has been in the news. A recent Wichita Eagle article showed how the mayor steered the award to a company other than the company recommended by the city's selection committee. [1. Swaim, Chance. Wichita’s mayor steered multi-million-dollar water plant contract to friends. Wichita Eagle, September 29, 2019. Available at https://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article234701932.html.] Central to the story is the relationship between the mayor and…
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